I have travelled the world.
I have strolled through Paris on a mild Spring evening admiring the pretty lights on the trees, and the sight of the Eiffel Tower lit up from a distance.
I have stayed on the coast of Croatia and admired its craggy cliffs and clear skies.
I have explored Thailand’s beaches and islands from the sea.
I’ve made up stories from the fairytale castles of Prague.
I’ve eaten pasta, seafood and icecream and drunk wine in the north of Italy, and been serenaded by gondoliers in Venice.
I have experienced the ultimate in city living in the stylish New York City – I’ve admired the view from the top of the Chrysler building, I’ve taken the scenic boat ride round the Statue of Liberty, and I’ve shopped in Macy’s.
I’ve even taken a three week solo trip around Spain with a cheeky overnight stop off in Morocco to visit souks.
Ok, so the truth is I’ve done none of those things (in case you hadn’t guessed). I do have a passion for travel. I have collected various travel guides and magazines over the years, pouring over them with a yearning that sometimes is quite painful (and then having to store them in various ingenious places round my flat as I can’t bear to throw them away) I love gazing at pictures of other places, and dreaming of visiting there. I sometimes buy films for the sole reason that they are set in a beautiful place (New York is my current passion – any suggestions of good films that would allow me to ogle the concrete jungle?) I’ve even got as far as planning to the last detail trips to all of the places above, from seeking out flight and hotel prices (standard), to learning key words and phrases in the relevant language, to creating beautifully colour co-ordinated (and laminated! every teacher’s best friend) itineraries to make sure I can visit every single thing I want to see.
So why haven’t I gone to any of these places? There have been a few trips to France (and once to Florida) with my family (after which I vowed never to travel with them again – I always had to share rooms with either my mum or my sister and never got any time alone, and used to feel babyish compared to the other teenage girls I saw on holiday seemingly without their parents in tow). There was also a school trip to Russia when I was 14 (easily the most amazing place I’ve ever been, but I was clearly far too young to appreciate it as my main memories are of buying potato beer and trying to get off with a boy also on the trip), I’ve never gone through with my plans. There is always a reason:
- Money – I can never seem to justify spending money on a holiday. There is always something more pressing – car repairs, nights out, ‘savings’ money that somehow never seems to go into savings.
- My job – being a teacher means that I can never go on holiday except at peak times, increasing the price and business of the place substantially.
- Fear – what if something goes wrong? What if it turns out I am not adventurous at all and I don’t find that out until I’m hundreds or thousands of miles away from home?
I do fear that I’m not adventurous. I went to university just 30 miles away from my home town. If Pedro is away for a weekend battle re-enacting I miss him fiercely. I only went on a plane on my own for the first time last year – to Jersey. I often decide not to go on a night out, preferring to stay in cosy. The only evidence I have that I would love the adventure of travelling is from a visit to my university friends Julia and Dave a few years ago. I had to go through London, and arriving at Kings Cross I discovered that the tube station had been closed. Deciding against following the swarm of commuters to the nearest tube station as it would surely cause delays, I decided instead to use my initiative and find my way to another tube station a little further away that I could work out the rest of the journey from. Setting off confidently, I hopped on a London bus going in the direction I needed. I hadn’t realised that the Oyster card system had just been introduced, and you couldn’t just get on a bus and expect to be able to pay…Luckily the driver took pity on my confused Northern-ness and let me ride for free, to the clear horror of all the Southern passengers (boo hiss). I met a couple of ‘cockney geezers’ on the bus (told you I love public transport – I nearly always make friends!) and they delighted in competing with each other to work out my best onward route on the tube system. I love the London tube system – I once referred to myself on a trip to our nation’s capital with friends as ‘Tube Wizard’ (All I’ll say about that is pride came before a fall.) Getting off that London bus and walking through the night to the tube station was thrilling, and I felt like a real adventurer.
I think the main reason I’ve never gone through with any of the above plans is fear of being lonely while I’m there. So far I’ve never had someone to go with. Yes, I went on the obligatory holiday with my friends after our A-Levels, it was fun, but I didn’t really enjoy it because I missed the one person I desperately wanted there – my then boyfriend. What a wasted opportunity – I still feel cross with myself now! But whenever I imagine being in all these wonderful places, 9 times out of 10 I imagine being with someone special, holding hands, going for romantic dinners, experiencing things together. Yes – I am a hopeless romantic.
So I suppose my hope is that now I have Pedro we can visit some of these places together – and I’ve taken the first step! To solve the financial issue I have got my first ever credit card (far too grown up I know). My current aim is New York, I even have a diet mantra for before I go (goodbye pork – hello New York) as I will want to take a lot of photos and be able to look back at them without wincing. Currently Pedro and I have had to postpone our original plan of going next Easter due to cost – suggestions on how to make this affordable are very welcome!
I don’t want to remain a travel-guide adventurer all my life.